I decided to take this week off work. Figured it was a good chance to recharge my brain before I have to really start prepping for my fall classes. Plus Scott and I went to Kelowna this weekend and I got some produce that I want to pickle, so I figured that it’s better to do that during the week while the produce is still nice and fresh. And, as previously mentioned, I have a bunch of little things that I want to do around the condo, so since COVID has taken any substantial travel off the table, I figured that I may as well make the best of it.
organized the eight million papers I brought home from my office so that I don’t have giant piles of paper all over my home office
I also thought I’d check out my 101 things to do in 1001 days list to see if there is anything on that list that I could get done. Much to my surprise, that 1001 days ends in October! Quite a few things on the list are travel-related3, so I’ll just have to concentrate on the non-travel-y ones. Some of the ones I think I can do include:
Make Christmas presents for at least 5 people for a single Christmas
Make something useful with my chalkboard paint
Mend Baby Mr. Moveable Bear’s paws
Make a list of all the gift cards I have
Spend all the gift cards on that list
Compile a list of all my accounts and other relevant information for the executrix of my will
Make homemade marshmallows
Eat at Hawksworth
Make a key lime pie
Make Eggs Benedict
Mend all the clothes in my “to fix” box
Finish Konmari-ing my apartment
Frame my New Westminster map
Refinish my kitchen table
Refinish my bedside table
Clear all the draft blog postings out of my “Drafts” folder (either finishing writing them or give up on the idea and delete it)
Make a list of 100 things for which I’m grateful.
Make a living will
Complete a healthcare proxy document
Establish a regular mindfulness meditation routine
Publish 333 blog postings during these 1001 days
That should keep me busy!
I have leftover paint from when I got the condo painted and figure that paining the insides of the closets is a nice, low stakes way to do some painting, since I’ve never painted before. [↩]
I’ve ordered the necessary jars and magnets, so will do this once they arrive. [↩]
Oh Beth of the Before Times, if you only knew! [↩]
Also from their website: “We work with local experts and community members to find the best sustainable solution in each place where we work, whether it’s a well, a piped system, a BioSand Filter, or a system for harvesting rainwater. And with every water point we fund, our partners coordinate sanitation and hygiene training and establish a local Water Committee to help keep water flowing for years to come.”
And for today’s donation I’m going to do another local (to me) non-profit: Lookout Housing and Health Society. Lookout is a New Westminster-based non-profit that provides low barrier access to housing and other support for individuals who are already facing many challenges, such as poverty, mental health issues, substance use, disabilities, and more. Their mission statement is:
We provide housing and a range of support services to adults with low or no income who have few, if any, housing or support options. Because the people we serve have challenges meeting basic needs and goals, we place minimal barriers between them and our services.
So I’m up in Prince George this week for work. My team needed to do data collection here and in Victoria, so we split up with half the team coming north and the other half crossing the Narrow Sea Georgia Strait to Essos Victoria. I’ve been to Victoria before – and I’m sure I’ll go again – so I jumped at the chance to come to PG, as I’ve never been here before and don’t imagine I’ll choose it as a vacation spot anytime soon. And I do like going to places I’ve never been before.
I have to say it’s quite pretty here and the people are unbelievably friendly. The people we are working with here are hosting a pub night at a local brewery for us on Wednesday and are making us lunch on Thursday. They’ve been so considerate and accommodating and friendly to us. And so has pretty much everyone else we’ve met. It’s very chill.
It’s also quite spread out here – it’s about a 20 minute walk from our hotel to the site we are working at and another 15 past that to get to where all the good restaurants are. (We went to the Copper Pig for BBQ for dinner – the food was amazing!). I’ve seen bus stops around, but I’ve yet to see a bus. Definitely a place that one would need to have a car (which we don’t).
Sadly, the forest fire season has started early – there wasn’t much precipitation over the winter – and they’ve already had to evacuate areas due to fire and it’s May! That doesn’t bode well for the summer – and we thought last summer’s forest fires were bad. 🙁
Some fun facts about PG:
while I tend to think of PG as in the “north”, when you look on a map you can see that it’s not even half way to the top of the province
population: 79,000 (just a bit bigger than New West’s 71,000)
Another organization that my students worked with this semester was the Lifesaving Society – BC & Yukon Branch. This Society has been around since 1911 and its mandate is “to reduce water-related death and injury”. So whether you are swimming in a pool or at the beach or you are out boating or going out on a frozen pond, the Lifesaving Society has resources for you.
They offer all sorts of things, including swimming lessons, lifeguard training, first aid training, public education, research, and consultations. They also “establish aquatic safety standards and consult on aquatic safety issues for the aquatic industry, governments, and the judiciary”.
Of the many program offered by the Lifesaving Society, he program that my students focused on was Swim to Survive, which provides learners with the opportunity to learn how to protect themselves in the water.
The Lifesaving Society – BC & Yukon Branch does not receive any provincial or federal government funding, so they rely on revenue from their courses and donations.
I logged into my blog tonight to write a posting and learned that there is a brand new version of WordPress, which is the open source software that I use to publish my blog. And it’s not just a usual little update with a few bug fixes – it’s a big change to how the WordPress editor works. Instead of just writing stuff in one big textbook like I used to, it’s now all down in different types of “blocks”.
So now instead of writing what I was going to write about1, I’m writing a post to play around with the new features2.
Like in this paragraph, I used a “drop cap” to create the giant “L” at the start of the paragraph, like one might see in a fancy book. Unfortunately, it looks totally ridiculous with the font my blog theme uses.
There’s also a new way to insert photos, so I’ve inserted this random photo of Watson & Crick exploring the inside of the dishwasher:
Now I’m using a “quotation” block, just to see what that looks like. (When I preview the post, I can see it’s in italics, which isn’t how it looks in the editor. I think that’s because my theme has itaclics for quotations. But it looks better without the italics, to be honest).
-Dr. Beth Snow
There is also an option called a “cover”, which is a photo with writing on top of it. But it only seems to let you choose a photo that you’ve uploaded to the same place where you store your blog, whereas I prefer to store all my photos in Flickr and use them from there. So here’s an example of a cover from one of the very few photos that I’ve actually stored with my blog rather than on Flickr:
This is a cover
There’s also a “gallery” where you can add a bunch of photos, but again, I have to store all the photos on the server where I store my blog, but I don’t want to pay to store a bunch of photos there when I already pay to store all my photos on Flickr.
That button just takes you to my homepage, so it’s not very exciting. And it looks terrible, because the text is picking up the link colour (blue if you haven’t been to my homepage and purple if you have) from my theme – whereas on the editing screen it looks much nicer.3
But think of all the exciting places I could direct you to go, now that I have button creating powers!
There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that I can do with this (including changing the background and text colour in a block, apparently), but it’s getting late so I think I’ll leave that all to another day. Now to click “Publish” and see how this all really looks on the other side (though WP tells me that it should look very similar to what I’m seeing in the editor screen, but when I previewed it did not!)
I don’t even remember what I was going to write about, to be honest! [↩]
Basically, what I’m saying is that this post will probably be of interest to no one, so you can save yourself the boredom and stop reading now. Assuming that you read the footnotes. Assuming that my footnotes plugin still works with this brave new WordPress…. oh wait, I just previewed the post and the footnotes do, in fact, appear to work. Hooray! [↩]
Establish a weight training program and actually do regular weight training, where “regular” = at least 2x per week for at least 3 out of 4 weeks per month. I totes kicked ass at this one – since joining Strong Side in March, I went to the gym 3x a week (with the exception of a two week period at the end of Oct/start of Nov when I was away and put my membership on hold).
Vague goal: Finish the letter of intent for mystery thing #2. The thing didn’t end up panning out, but I did finish the LOI.
KonMari my condo. I did most of the “clothing” category and then nothing else. I’m rolling this goal over to 2018.
Travel somewhere awesome. I did go to Washington, DC, which was cool, but I only got one day of sightseeing in and don’t think that qualifies as “awesome”.
Submit 5 papers for publication. I submitted one! And I have another that I just need to cut 100 words out of and then I can submit it (so that will be my first submission for 2018).
Vague goal: Finish the plan for mystery thing #1. Didn’t finish it, but did make some progress! Will be continuing to work on this in 2018.
Do yoga at least 2x per week (either at home or in a class). I don’t think I did a single yoga session all year.
Get back to journalling regularly (where “regularly” = once a week). Nope.
Get a Nexus card. Been meaning to do that for a while.
Send an actual physical birthday card on time to all my family members and close friends. Nope.
Bring my lunch to work 80% of the time. I was tracking this in a Google spreadsheet and have the data from up to mid-way through Oct, when I was at a meagre 56%. But then there was some epic fail on the spreadsheet where it wasn’t saving my entries after that and I lost a couple of months worth of data and I have no idea which days I did or didn’t bring my lunch during that time. I’m guessing that I didn’t bring it above
Complete the 100 push up challenge. Didn’t bother with this because I’m doing my strength training programs at the gym.
Read 17 books. Four out of seventeen is so bad that I can’t even call this one “partially completed”. Just an epic fail!
Write 117 blog postings! When I hit “publish” on this posting, I’ll have published 92 blog postings this year – 97 if you count the 5 I wrote on my “professional” blog. And since I don’t have it in my to write 20 blog postings this evening, I’m accepting this as a fail and a reminder to be more diligent with blogging next year!
And that’s going to be it for my 2017 blogging. Have a great NYE everyone and see you next year!
I went to a couple of conferences this year and learned a tonne of stuff at them, but in the interest of not boring you to tears with things that are very interesting to evaluators and probably no one else, I’m just going to tell you about one of the things that I learned from one of the keynote speakers: John Medina, developmental molecular biologist who focuses on genes that are expressed in the human brain. He wrote a book called “Brain Rules” that is totally on my list of books to read in the new year. He was giving a keynote about how to give effective lectures – i.e., lectures that will actually be interesting to, and hold the attention of, the audience and will make it more likely that they will remember the stuff you are teaching them.
He talked about how our brains are constantly on the look out for things that it should pay attention to and things that it need not pay attention to. Remembering that our brains “evolved to solve problems related to surviving in an outdoor setting in varying meteorological environments while in constant motion”1, it makes sense that it is wired to pay attention to things that would promote survival in that context. The human brain processes meaning before it processes details , as you don’t really want your brain to be paying attention to how many teeth that sabre tooth tiger has before it thinks about the meaning of that mouth full of sabre tooth tiger teeth2. So, what does “meaning” mean in this context? Basically, when you observe something, the brain asks the following 6 questions, in the following order, to determine if something is worth paying attention to:
Will it eat me? [i.e., is it a threat?)
Can I eat it? [i.e., is it a resource I can use?]
Can I have sex with it? [i.e., a potential reproductive opportunity?]
Will it have sex with me? [i.e., a potential reproductive opportunity?]
Have I seen it before? [i.e., pattern recognition]
Have I never seen it before? [i.e., surprise]
Since these are the things that catch the attention of brains, he suggested starting lectures with anecdotes that use one of these six ways of catching the audience’s attention3 and showing them why what you are talking about is meaningful. As well, since we have relatively short attention spans, you should also use these to re-engage the audience about every 10 minutes of so.
There was a tonne more that I learned from his lecture and I’m definitely going to read his book. And then I’ll probably have to re-write every lecture that for the courses that I teach before the next time I teach them!
I took pretty good notes in this keynote, so caught that quotation verbatim. [↩]
I didn’t catch that quote verbatim, but that was another of his points! [↩]
Though I think numbers 3-4 probably wouldn’t be appropriate for most lectures! [↩]
Scott and I put up the Christmas tree tonight! The cats helped, where by “helped” I mean jumped in the box as we opened it and tried to climb in the tree. Crick put her favourite toy under the tree, which can only mean she thinks it’s a gift.
In unrelated news, I scored the game winning goal in my hockey game today. It’s a Christmas-tree-putting-up-day miracle!